What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Missing

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What SHOULD you do if your dog is missing?  We recently went through this terrible experience, and I don’t wish it on anyone.  While we were extremely lucky with our outcome, it could have easily not rather unfortunate.  SO, I’d like to share what I’ve learned from my experience, to perhaps save y’all the trouble and heartache, if you ever find yourself in my shoes.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Missing

Prevention – Things to Do Beforehand

  • Get the chip.  If it’s within your budget and your pet is young, get the chip implanted. It’s the easiest and fastest way to have your beloved pet return home to you.  Our dog is almost 15 years old, and the chip wasn’t available when my husband got him.  (Yes, he got the dog before he got me…)
  • Keep updated tags on him.  Our dog is prone to losing his tag, so it’s a good idea to keep an extra one handy, if yours is the same way.  Check frequently to ensure tags are still in place, and that the information hasn’t rubbed off.
  • Take pictures!  You’ve probably heard about taking pictures of your children before going to a big amusement park, so you’ve got an instant identification of her if you were to get separated.  The same principle applies to your pet.  Make sure you have updated pictures of you pooch, so people will know who to look for!

During the Search – the First Few Hours

  • Begin walking around your neighborhood, calling your dog’s name.  If you frequent a particular route when you walk, go that way.  
  • Perhaps bring a treat or favorite toy, especially if it makes noise.  
  • Also, bring a leash, so he’s easier to walk back home.
  • If a walk around the neighborhood doesn’t turn up results, hop in your car, and do the same thing, only cover a larger radius.  If there are enough adults to do so, have one person walking the route, while another drives around, to cover more ground and faster.
  • If your dog is at all like ours, once he’s spotted, don’t rush over to him — that may just make him run further, and if you’re in a high traffic area, that’s obviously a no-no.  Just continue to approach your dog at a normal pace, with an upbeat tone, perhaps offering that toy or treat.

During the Search – Getting the Word Out

  • Put up posters immediately.  Keep it simple.  Offer a brief description, and make a phone number easily visible.  I recommend running to the dollar store and grabbing some neon poster board. Use a BLACK sharpie to legibly write information, or just type the info (Arial font is best) and paste to poster board.  Posters should be visible all around the neighborhood, and in spots where folks are most likely to see them, like on busy streets.
  • Also, the posters our dog’s founder used were wrapped with plastic wrap, to prevent the rain from ruining them.  Or if you have easy access, laminate them.  (But bear in mind, this could get expensive if you go to an office supply store to do so.)  Clear contact paper may also work well, too; you can grab a roll at Big Lots for $2.
  • Remember the frequent pictures you’re supposed to be taking fo your pup?  Now’s the time to find the best ones to put on social media.  In this day and age, a dog could potentially be lost, found, and returned in an hour’s time, thanks to the overwhelming amount of technology on our hands.  Facebook has groups for neighborhoods, but you can also post on your feed, and ask locals to share. 

During the Search – Contact local establishments

  • Of course, contact your local animal shelters.  Since I live on the border of THREE counties, we contacted all three county’s animal shelters.  One had a way to upload his picture to their “missing” board online, but they all required you to come in person to ID and pick up your dog.  Each suggested we check their “up for adoption” list, which was updated at various intervals.
  • Contact local pet stores and veterinarian offices.  Lost pets can turn up there, and are frequently held there, at least temporarily.  One easy way to see how many pet stores are near you is to do a simple “Yelp” search by proximity and key word.

Our dog was found because my husband happened to spot a poster on his way home from work for a “found dog” about 3 miles from our home.  It turns out, he showed up in the neighborhood of a sweet, older couple the next morning, and was enjoying their company that day.  They’d taken him to the local vet (our vet!) to check for a chip.  They’d gone out and gotten a small supply of dog food, and bought supplies to create about 8 posters.  We came prepared to pay them, but they absolutely refused payment.  However, we did go around the neighborhood, and removed all of their signs for them.  That was the very least we could do!

My hope, of course, is that you’ll never need to take this advice.  But chances are great, if you’re reading this, you’re already looking for a missing pooch.  I certainly hope this proves helpful, and that you and your fur baby are reunited quickly!

Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**


  1. These are great tips!!

  2. Rachel says:

    These are great recommendations but I would add to be sure to check Craigslist. I’ve experienced & known several cases where pets were reunited through Craigslist.

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